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Depression, Suicidal Ideation Remain a Big Problem in Medical Schools

Dec 07, 2016 04:45 AM EST
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High-competitiveness of medical schools is driving many students in the path of depression and at times suicidal ideation.
(Photo : Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A new analysis revealed that the high-competitiveness of medical schools is driving many students in the path of depression and at times suicidal ideation.

The analysis, published in the journal JAMA, showed that about 27 percent of the students in medical schools reported depression or depressive symptoms. Additionally, 11 percent of the students experience suicidal ideation. Out of those students with depression, only 16 percent sought treatment.

For the study, the researchers reviewed nearly 200 studies involving 129,000 medical students in 47 countries. The studies used were all published in peer-reviewed literature and used either validated questionnaire or structured interview.

According to a press release, the researchers found that the overall pooled crude prevalence of depression or depressive symptoms among the study participants was 27.2 percent, with summary prevalence estimate ranging from 9.3 percent to 55.9 percent. Meanwhile, the overall pooled crude prevalence of suicidal ideation among the medical students was 11.1 percent, with summary prevalence estimates ranged across assessment modalities from 7.4 percent to 24.2 percent. Among those who have reported to be suffering from depression, only 15.7 percent received treatment.

The result of their analysis, paired with a recent study on depression among clinical residence, could be a strong indication that the depressive symptoms of the students could continue to their practice. These depressive and suicidal symptoms could negatively affect the long-term health of physicians, leading to the decline of health-care and medical services.

The researchers noted that stress and anxiety, coupled with medical school's competitiveness is one of the main driving forces behind the student's depressive and suicidal tendencies. Due to this, the researchers recommend restructuring of the medical curricula and student evaluations to alleviate some of the stress and pressure experienced by the students.

Additional research is necessary to determine how the depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation of students affect their effectiveness during their residency. Furthermore, the researchers also want to find out whether medical and behavioral interventions could reduce their depression and suicidal ideation.

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